What is the Congestion Reduction Demonstration Program?
The Congestion Reduction Demonstration Program is a multi-modal, one-year pilot program overseen by Metro, Caltrans and several other mobility partners. The program includes the introduction of congestion pricing by converting High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes to High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes called Metro ExpressLanes, on the I-10 and I-110 Freeways in Los Angeles County; the improvement of transit service and other alternatives to driving; the upgrading of transit facilities; and, the improvement of parking in downtown Los Angeles.
What are the Metro ExpressLanes?
Metro ExpressLanes converts 14 miles of existing carpool/ High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes on the I-10 El Monte Busway (between Alameda St and I-605) and 11 miles on the I-110 Harbor Transitway (between Adams Bl. and Harbor Gateway Transit Center) to High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes. Buses, motorcycles, vanpools and eligible carpools that use the HOT lanes with FasTrak will not be charged a toll. Single drivers may choose to pay a toll to use the lanes. General purpose lanes will remain toll-free for all motorists.
How are tolls set on the Metro ExpressLanes?
Tolls are set based on the amount of traffic traveling on the Metro ExpressLanes using congestion pricing. During peak periods, when there is more traffic, the toll is higher to discourage new solo drivers from entering and to maintain a minimum speed of 45 mph. During off-peak periods, the toll is lower. By changing the toll in response to the level of demand, the Metro ExpressLanes keeps traffic flowing smoothly.
When will the Metro ExpressLanes open?
Metro ExpressLanes opened November 10, 2012 on the I-110 Freeway, and will open on February 23, 2013 for the I-10 Freeway.
Why were the I-110 and I-10 selected to have Metro ExpressLanes?
These freeways meet three basic criteria for successful congestion pricing:
- Carpool lane segments are long enough to offer significant travel time savings to commuters
- Feasible short-term implementation
- Ability to provide improved transit options such as Bus Rapid Transit
Where will the Metro ExpressLanes toll revenues be used?
Gross toll revenues will first be used to cover the costs to operate and maintain the Metro ExpressLanes. Per State law, net toll revenues must be reinvested in the corridor where generated in transit and/or carpool lane improvements.
Aren’t tolls just another tax?
No. These are optional tolls, and the choice is yours. Unlike a tax that everyone pays, only the drivers that do not meet the minimum occupancy requirements who choose to use a toll facility will be charged a fee. Solo drivers have the option to use the existing general purpose lanes toll-free, or pay to use the toll facility if better mobility and more reliable trip times are desired.
What improvements will occur on the I-10 Freeway?
The project will convert existing HOV lanes on the I-10 from Alameda Street/Union Station to I-605 into ExpressLanes. This project will also reduce bottlenecks by providing additional ExpressLanes capacity by adding a lane on the El Monte Busway between I-710 and I-605 through re-striping and buffer changes in both directions. No general purpose lanes are taken away to create the second ExpressLane between I-710 and I-605.
What improvements will occur on the I-110 Freeway?
The project will convert existing HOV lanes on the I-110 from 182nd Street/Harbor Gateway Transit Center to Adams Bl into ExpressLanes. To reduce bottlenecks, Adams Bl will be widened between the Harbor Freeway off-ramp and Flower Street- adding an additional westbound right-turn-only lane to the HOV bypass connecting to Figueroa Street. Restriping will also add one extra lane to the HOV off-ramp approaching Adams Bl to increase capacity.
How do the ExpressLanes benefit carpools and vanpools?
Eligible carpools with FasTrak can use the Metro ExpressLanes toll-free and have 24/7 access. ExpressLanes will provide a better commute for carpools with the addition of nine new lane miles on the I-10 between I-605 and I-710, and will reduce bottlenecks at Adams Bl for the I-110 corridor. There will be better enforcement because vehicles without FasTrak are easier to detect with the increased level of CHP officers.
Also, Metro ExpressLanes will be introducing a Loyalty Program for carpools which will offer additional incentives to reward those who rideshare. Carpools and vanpools are automatically entered into monthly drawings for gift cards each time they use FasTrak.
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How will the toll be paid or collected?
There will be no toll booths. The latest technology involves a pre-paid FasTrak® transponder that electronically collects the toll based upon the driver’s FasTrak account so that patrons do not have to wait in line at toll booths.
How does the FasTrak® transponder work?
A FasTrak® transponder is a small radio-frequency device that adheres to the inside of a vehicle’s windshield and can be read by a sensor mounted over the roadway. Prior to starting a trip, the driver will indicate the number of occupants in the vehicle by moving the switch on the transponder to the appropriate setting (1, 2, 3+). As the vehicle enters the Metro ExpressLanes, an antenna will read the transponder and a toll/discount will be automatically charged to the vehicle owner’s FasTrak account.
How will the system distinguish between carpools and solo drivers in charging tolls?
Prior to starting a trip, the driver will indicate the number of occupants in the vehicle by moving the switch on the transponder to the appropriate setting (1, 2, 3+). The “self-declaration” FasTrak® transponder will help enforce occupancy requirements aided by dedicated CHP officers who will provide visual verification.
Is FasTrak® interchangeable between vehicles?
Yes, FasTrak®can be moved from one vehicle to another. Customers intending to use FasTrak in multiple vehicles should list all vehicle plates on their account to avoid receiving a toll violation notice.
How will enforcement work on the Metro ExpressLanes?
In order for the Metro ExpressLanes to operate efficiently, a combination of visual monitoring by California Highway Patrol (CHP) vehicles, photo enforcement and FasTrak will be used to ensure legal use of the ExpressLanes.
How do I get FasTrak®?
Customers will be able to establish their Metro ExpressLanes FasTrak® accounts online, by calling 511, in person at our designated walk-in centers in Gardena or El Monte, or by mail. FasTrak transponders are now available. Click here to sign-up.
What does it cost to set up a pre-paid FasTrak® account?
Credit/Debit Card Accounts: An initial prepaid toll deposit of $40 per transponder is required to open an account. The $25 transponder deposit will be waived. If the FasTrak®is not returned in good working condition when the account is closed, a $25 fee will be charged to the account.
Cash/Check Accounts: An initial prepaid toll deposit of $50 per transponder and a per transponder deposit of $25 will be required to open an account. When the account is closed and the transponder is returned in good working condition, the $25 deposit will be returned.
For those commuters who qualify for our equity plan, a one-time $25 discount will be applied to their account.
Can I use the FasTrak® transponder that I currently have?
Yes, a standard FasTrak® can be used to pay a toll on the Metro ExpressLanes. For toll free access on the Metro ExpressLanes, a switchable FasTrak is required.
Can the Metro ExpressLanes FasTrak® be used to pay a toll on other toll facilities in the state?
Will alternative fuel/hybrid vehicles with stickers qualify to ride in the Metro ExpressLanes free of charge?
No. Driving alone in an alternative fuel/hybrid vehicle helps reduce pollution, but it does not reduce congestion. Alternative fuel/hybrid vehicles will be treated like all other vehicles.
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What is congestion pricing?
Congestion pricing charges users of a transportation facility, such as a roadway, based on the level of traffic congestion. When the amount of traffic increases, the amount of the toll increases in order to keep the lanes free-flowing.
How much will it cost to use the Metro ExpressLanes?
Tolls will be continually adjusted according to traffic conditions to maintain a free-flowing level of traffic on the ExpressLanes, using congestion pricing. The minimum toll per mile is $0.25 and the maximum toll per mile is $1.40. The toll price is locked in at the time of entry into the ExpressLanes, and will be based on traffic levels to ensure a minimum average speed of 45 mph.
What happens if the lanes become too full?
If the lanes become too full and the tolls have reached the maximum amount, the message displayed on the overhead sign will change to “HOV ONLY”. This message will inform potential toll paying drivers that they will not be allowed to enter the ExpressLanes until the speeds climb back up. If you are a toll paying driver already using the ExpressLanes when the sign message changes to “HOV ONLY” you will be able to complete your trip.
What happens if there is an incident in the Metro ExpressLanes?
If there is a Sig Alert in the Metro ExpressLanes and toll-paying customers were not able to receive their average 45 mph trip, the toll will be credited to their account.
What will the average toll rate be on the ExpressLanes?
Average toll (end to end) for I-10 ExpressLanes is $6 (average trip is 9 miles). Average Toll (end to end) for I-110 ExpressLanes is $4 (average trip is 5 miles).
What is the projected revenue for the ExpressLanes?
The gross annualized revenue is estimated to be $20 million for both corridors.
Are low-income drivers priced out of certain lanes?
No. Eligible carpools travel toll-free and the Metro ExpressLanes provide Bus Rapid Transit. In addition, the toll policy includes an Equity Program for low-income commuters. Residents of Los Angeles County with an annual household income (family of 3) at or below $37,060 will qualify for a $25 credit when they set up their account. This credit can then be applied to either the transponder deposit or pre-paid toll deposit. The monthly $3 account maintenance fee will also be waived.
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What transit improvements will occur on the I-10 El Monte Busway?
At the eastern terminus of the Metro ExpressLanes, the El Monte Station expansion includes new and improved facilities and opened to the public on October 14, 2012. The Project includes new and improved passenger amenities and wayfinding, an increase in bus berths, additional buses and service to the Metro Silver Line and the Foothill Silver Streak, a new regional transit store, a Greyhound store and a bike station. The project will be constructed to achieve LEED gold certification.
Also, a new Union Station stop will be added to the El Monte Busway, allowing direct access to the station’s Patsaouras Transit Plaza. This will eliminate the long walks, operational delays and insufficient lighting and information displays passengers currently have to contend with when transferring at Alameda Street to Metro’s Red and Gold lines, Metrolink and Amtrak.
What transit improvements will occur on the I-110 Harbor Transitway?
The Harbor Gateway Transit Center (formerly Artesia Transit Center), the largest transit center on the I-110 Harbor Transitway and the southern terminus of the Metro ExpressLanes, received improvements such as a law enforcement substation to assist with station security and bike lockers to promote non-motorized access.
Harbor Transitway improvements include the upgrading of wayfinding signage and the addition of digital message signs, the installation of CCTVs (closed circuit TVs to monitor and secure the area) at Harbor Transitway stations/parking lots. During rush hour, the frequency of the Silver Line changed from every 30 minutes to every 10 minutes and feeder service from Gardena and Torrance transit has been increased. New feeder bus stops at Slauson and Manchester Stations were installed directly below the Transitway stations to allow for more direct connections and transfers to the Silver Line. Enhanced station lighting was added at 37th St/USC, Slauson, Manchester and Rosecrans Stations. A pilot noise reduction/sound barrier will be installed at the 37th Street Station.
How will the Silver Line connect through Downtown Los Angeles?
The Silver Line will see improved travel times through downtown LA with Transit Signal Priority (TSP). TSP is an operational strategy that facilitates the movement of transit vehicles either buses or streetcars, through traffic-signal controlled intersections. Objectives of TSP include improved schedule adherence and improved transit travel time efficiency while minimizing impacts to normal traffic operations.
This project, implemented by LADOT, will install bus-signal priority technology on Figueroa Street between Wilshire Bl and Adams Bl (15 signals), and Flower Street between Wilshire Bl and Olympic Bl (5 signals) to enhance transit operations. TSP will decrease the trip time of the Silver Line buses that travel through downtown Los Angeles.
What improvements will occur on Commuter Rail (Metrolink)?
The Congestion Reduction Demonstration Program added Commuter Rail capacity on Metrolink’s San Bernardino’s Line. The Pomona Station on Metrolink’s San Bernardino Line went from 230 to 372 parking spaces, a 62% increase in capacity. The station expanded its platforms to accommodate longer eight-car trains.
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What is LA Express Park and how is it related to the Congestion Reduction Demonstration Program?
The Congestion Reduction Demonstration program is providing $15 million in funding for LA Express Park. LA Express Park will use new parking technology in the downtown area to provide motorists alternative payment options and real-time parking availability information. New parking meters will charge motorists demand-based parking rates-which change depending on the time of day and traffic congestion levels. The information will aid motorists in understanding their parking options and will guide them to available parking spaces-eliminating the need to search for parking and reducing traffic congestion.